How parents and teachers rated online learning

77% of parents are very or somewhat concerned about the coronavirus outbreak's negative impact on learning
By: | June 24, 2020
In a pair of surveys, many parents expressed concern about the coronavirus outbreak's negative impact on learning while teachers detailed challenges to tackle before the 2020-21 school year. (GettyImages/Laura Olivas)In a pair of surveys, many parents expressed concern about the coronavirus outbreak's negative impact on learning while teachers detailed challenges to tackle before the 2020-21 school year. (GettyImages/Laura Olivas)

Administrators in many districts this summer will be working with teachers to provide professional development to improve online learning that is almost sure to continue alongside the coronavirus outbreak during 2020-21 school year.

If that work wasn’t already a high priority, enhancing online classes may have taken on more urgency after a new survey found that 77% of parents are very or somewhat concerned about the coronavirus outbreak’s negative impact on learning.

Another 72% expressed concern about the effect of school closings on students’ emotional and social development, according to the survey conducted by The Public Matters project at Teachers College, Columbia University.

The study suggests that most parents see school as essential to their children’s academic, social and emotional development, its authors wrote.


More from DA: What teachers do not find effective about online learning


“In most communities, the transition to online distance learning has been rocky,” they said. “The academic and social features of the classroom may not transfer easily to schooling at home.”

Black and Asian Americans survey expressed greater concern about the impacts than did white respondents. Residents of urban communities were more worried than were adults living in suburbs and rural areas.

Adults surveyed also said teachers should prioritize students’ social-emotional well being over academic skills.

“Our survey results show just how much we count on schools to help young people grow and flourish academically and socially, and just how much is at stake when they are unable to function as we expect them to,” the study’s authors concluded.

Teachers’ views of online learning

Teachers detailed several challenges they faced in online learning during the spring in a survey recently conducted by Future of School, a nonprofit focused expanding access to personalized learning.

Some 30% of teachers reported diminished student engagement, motivation, performance, attendance and follow-through during online learning.

Another 15% said they had students who lacked internet connectivity, sufficient internet bandwidth and computers.


More from DA: What COVID and online learning taught Florida school leaders


Teachers, however, also reported a number of “positive surprises”:

  • I got better at using technology—17%
  • Students were eager to participate and help classmates—14%
  • Parents were supportive of students and communicated more regularly with teachers—11%
  • Some students, including special needs students, thrived in online learning—10%
  • Transition to online teaching was easier than expected—6%
  • Students developed a newfound respect for the normal classroom—5%

However, most teachers were more satisfied with their performance before school closures than they were with the outcomes of online learning, the survey found.

Just under 50% reported receiving training in online learning techniques after school buildings closed.

As for their plans for the 2020-21 school year, 87% said they would return to their positions while 2% expected to retire and another 2% expected to be laid off.


DA’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on K-12.